Down The Dumper – The 2000s Part 15.

This is an American duo who did some exciting things on the chart in the 2000s decade. Outkast consisted of Andre 3000 and Big Boi. They had actually released their first single in America as early as 1993, but in February 2001 “Ms Jackson” entered the lower end of the UK chart on import, such was the anticipation for this one. And then in March 2001, “Ms Jackson” became the song that turned them into big names.

This reached no. 2, to become their biggest hit in the UK, although this was a chart-topper in America. Going into 2002, next up were “So Fresh So Clean” and “The Whole World”. Now although these weren’t among their biggest hits, they are among my favourites by them. As well as the music channels, I remember the video for “The Whole World” being shown on ITV2.

This was on a show called Chart Choice, where they would show a music video or two when they had a five or ten minute gap in the schedule, and I always hoped that this one would turn up (and don’t forget Killer Mike, is he related to Stereo Mike from Bran Van 3000?). They were also appearing on the cover of NME by this point, bad luck for all those indie bands supposedly shaking the scene, but there’s no doubt that they were doing something rather innovative.

And they were also making the Grammy awards in the rap and urban categories their own, winning them for their songs year after year. After two more minor hits, by 2003, Outkast split… except they didn’t. They released a double album, that was actually two albums recorded individually by them, and then they were grouped together under the Outkast name, which offered rather different sounds.

In November 2003 “Hey Ya!” was released. And, in what was a rarity for this time, this seemed to go up the chart for several weeks, as the word spread that this was one of the catchiest hits on the scene. This reached no. 3, although this was another long-running chart-topper back in America. They continued to win several awards, and they probably argued over who got to keep them.

Going into 2004, they had further acclaimed Top Ten hits with “The Way You Move” and “Roses”, and they really were having twice the success of most acts. But by September 2006, “Morris Brown” missed the Top 40, and little has been heard of Outkast since. “Ms Jackson” briefly returned to the chart in February 2013, but that’s been it really. Maybe they really did split for good this time.

Down The Dumper – The 2000s Part 13.

I can’t resist it, I’m going to take a look back at another song by a dance production group, and that’s because this is another one that I really liked at the time and I feel is worth featuring. Chocolate Puma were a Dutch production duo who had released singles under various names, and they had a UK Top Ten hit single as early as 1993 with “Give It Up” (which was sampled on Simply Red’s 1995 chart-topper “Fairground”), at which point they were known as The Goodmen. This was also a minor hit in America.

In March 2001, as Chocolate Puma, “I Wanna Be U” was released, and this reached no. 6, so I suppose it could be said that this was actually their second UK Top Ten hit. Now 2001 was a year that for me was packed with really great dance singles on the chart, although I was in my mid-teens at the time, when I was really into pop music, but this one still managed to stand out more than most. vlcsnap-00423

This is partly because of the rather bizarre video, that I remember watching on MTV and is difficult to describe, although I did get something of an 80s vibe off this, and you should know how much I like 80s pop culture by now, wherever the references might turn up. There was some chocolate involved too naturally. They went on to have another Top Ten hit in 2001 under the alias Riva, with “Who Do You Love Now?”, featuring a guest vocal from Dannii Minogue. vlcsnap-00424

About a year on from their success, In May 2002 “Follow Da Leader” was released by Trinidad & Tobago duo Nigel And Marvin, and this was essentially someone shouting over the instrumental of “I Wanna Be U”. Although I thought this was far inferior, this reached no. 5, meaning that this went one better than the original, which is something of an injustice for me, even if it was good to see this unexpectedly return to the Top Ten in some form.vlcsnap-00425

Fans had to wait a rather long time for the follow-up under the Chocolate Puma name though, and over five years on from their big moment, in August 2006 “Always And Forever” was released, and this reached only no. 43, and that was that. In more recent years Chocolate Puma (or whatever they’re called now) have gone on to release many more singles, although none of them have been a hit in the UK, and they are also much in demand remixers.

Down The Dumper – The 2000s Part 5.

In pop music, as times change, there have been various ways that acts have been marketed, and sometimes they are pushed so they deliberately gain publicity from causing shock, and this was definitely one of the more extreme examples of this from this era. You should know by now that I an a fan of female duos, but they haven’t been many like this one.

TATU (or however you write it) were a Russian group that formed in the early-2000s, consisting of Moscow-born Julia and Lena. In January 2003 “All The Things She Said” (not to be confused with the 80s Simple Minds hit) was released, this was Number One for four weeks, and also reached no. 20 in America. Unsurprisingly they were the first Russian act to achieve a chart-topping single in the UK. vlcsnap-00259

But why was this such a success? The gimmick was simply that they were supposed to be two teenage schoolgirls who were somewhat fond of each other, put it that way. Pop music fans who thought that they had seen it all couldn’t believe it when they saw the video, and all this really did cause a real stir. It is difficult to think how the girls felt about all this, it seems that they were acting out one of their manager’s seedier fantasies. vlcsnap-00261

Around the same time their second of six albums (and first in English) “200KHM In The Wrong Lane” was released, and this just missed the Top Ten. People might forget though that they had two further Top Ten hit singles in the UK, and in 2003 they also participated in the Eurovision Song Contest (where they finished third), although by this point their act seemed to attract more tut-tutting and eye-rolling from people than shock. vlcsnap-00263

In November 2005, third album “Dangerous And Moving” was released, but this missed the Top 75. And in February 2006, “Friend Or Foe” was released, but this reached only no. 48, and this was the final hit for TATU. Just three years on from their peak they were now old news, as pop music moved on yet again. They have gone on to work on various projects since, and the idea probably wouldn’t work any more now they’re about 35 years old, but for a brief moment they were a huge talking point.